There's nothing quite like an Arizona sunset. The mystic desert is so grounding. Mother Earth in her most refined form. Hazy purple mountain ranges, rustic red meets dusty tangerine, hues of faint green blend with sky blue fading into atmospheric indigo. This is where I grew up. These are my 3rd and 4th generation American roots. But they aren't my only roots.
My family's lineage runs deep and I've barely scratched the surface. I know my great grandparents from both sides primarily immigrated through San Francisco and my Dad's mom's side through Mexico. I know I'm Chinese from the Southern Province in China. But beyond that, I haven't devoted time or expressed real interest in learning more (until now).
Growing up in the Southwest, my family would make both Chinese and Mexican tamales. I would celebrate Chinese New Year and Mexican Independence Day. I speak more Spanish than Chinese. What I've learned so far is that being of Chinese descent doesn't really make you Chinese. To the outside world you represent a country you've never been. A language you don't know. Some cultural customs you've retained, others you haven't gotten a clue. And when you're in spaces with real Chinese, you're embarrassed because you don't belong.
Visiting Asia for the first time in January I got to experience what Anglo-Americans experience in their every day lives. I got a taste of what it feels like to be the majority. In America, I might experience that in a Chinese restaurant or in Chinatown but in Asia, they're EVERYWHERE you look. On motorbikes, on street corners, on trains, bikes, carts, anything with wheels. For people who are used to being the majority, this will be meaningless. You may not even realize the privilege you have. But being in Vietnam and Thailand, even though I didn't speak the language, I felt accepted. It felt like home.
In America, we have a wide range of cultures. Everyone with the exception of the indigenous Native American people, are in fact, immigrants. What baffles me most about many Americans is their negative attitude towards immigrants (this is a whole other and very relevant discussion) AND the fact that millions have never traveled outside the United States. I understand that for many, circumstances may not make that possible. But for others, why?
From conversations I've had, there's a mix of:
- Fear of stepping outside ones comfort zone.
- Sitting behind a screen is much easier than throwing yourself into another country.
- Other common reasons, "It's too expensive", "I don't have the time", "it's not safe".
I get it. I've been working for 12 years and said those same things and sat on a couch watching other people's lives miraculously unfold wondering when my time would come. Six years passed between my last two trips abroad. I got so immersed in the game, making businesses grow, I forgot about my dreams.
But once you get out there, you realize it's not so scary, it's not that expensive, you have the time, you are safe, and it's a thousand times better than watching it on TV, saving pictures on Pinterest, or writing about it in your journal.
The time for living is now.
I encourage you to take one of your Bucket List items and make it happen this year. Go somewhere you've never been. Wherever is calling you, go, you don't have to know why or have every step planned along the way. You just have to answer the call.
This is your one wild and precious life.
Live it so,